Monday, September 23, 2013

Young American, I want the Young American

Why does the United States live in a bubble?

I'll give you some examples.

The U.S. is basically the only country in the world that taxes based on citizenship not on residence. This means that we pay the same amount now then we would if we were still in Nashville.  Yes, we also pay Australian taxes.  Luckily, we can use what we pay in Australian taxes as a deduction but we are still paying in the U.S.  Every expat does this every year.  So even though I'm living in Australia I am literally paying for the right to be called an American.  I will still try not to complain.  Once again people; we have it really good.  Even when you think it's rough.  I saw a stat that blew my mind last week.  If you have a roof over your head, a refrigerator to store food, running water and indoor plumbing, you are richer than 75% of the world's population.  Wow!  Perspective can be so startling sometimes.  But I can't wait to vote.  I think I have to drop off my ballot at the embassy. I hope so because I want to see it.  I'm paying for it after all.

The United States and its associated territories, as well as Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are the only countries in the world that use Fahrenheit.  Celsius is not so hard now that I've been here a while.  0 degrees Celsius is the freezing point of water.  100 degrees Celsius is the boiling point of water.  I use this little ditty to help me with the rest.  "30 is hot, 20 is nice, 10 is cold, 0 is ice", end of story.  I used to think, "why doesn't everyone just use Fahrenheit," but now I'm thinking, "wait a minute, why are we the only country that doesn't use Celsius?"  We DO think we are just better than everyone else.  No wonder why everyone else in the world thinks we act that way.  Oh my gosh, we do.

Countries that use the Fahrenheit temperature scale
Map courtesy of

That's not all.  The United States, Myanmar (Burma) and Liberia are the only countries in the world that use the Imperial system and not metric.  Most people these days don't even call it Imperial anymore, they just say "the American" system.  In fact, ask anyone that deals Internationally in business what their favorite conversion app is because they will certainly have an opinion as they have to use it daily.  Not to mention every scientist that has to have both systems in place and mostly use metric anyway.  Metric units of measurement are all based on units of ten.  Obviously arguments can be made on both sides as to which is better because Americans use Imperial, right? Why else would we stick with it?  Right?!

Countries in the world that use Imperial measurements
Map courtesy of

My kryptonite is any type of measurements so it doesn't really matter to me either way.  I'm not going to know how long it is, or how much it weighs.  Can I pick it up?  Then it doesn't really matter to me.  But, seriously, why do we make ourselves the odd man out?  If we somehow lose all of our money and relevance and need help we will have put ourselves on an island away from the rest of the world.  How is this a good thing?  If your kid decided to play all different games on the playground and only had friends because they owned the soccer ball, how would you react?  What happens when the soccer ball gets a hole in it?  Do they play by themselves on the seesaw?  Cause I've done that and let me say you definitely need two people for a good teeter-totter.  Otherwise, it's just you jumping up in the air with a giant board beneath you.  No fun.

Once again, I'm not saying these things to bash the United States.  We PAY to remain American after all.  But, looking from the outside it's just disheartening how isolated we have become.  Even our news is filtered and made "American".  Please click here to see the illustrations of the Time Magazine covers in the U.S. v. the rest of the world.  It's not that we are physically so big and demanding.  Look at this link that shows comparisons of our size to other countries of the world.  Trust me, it's fascinating and it really helps when you see them against the perspective of something we know.  We always say, "it's such a big country."  True, but we aren't the only one.  Watch the video too.  It's a clip from West Wing, featuring my favorite TV writer, Aaron Sorkin.  And I'm sure it's biased too, of course everything is, but you might as well get both sides.

I guess my point is that we need to learn to get along better on the play ground.  If our government isn't helping us then we have to do it as individuals, one by one.  Be better Americans!  I know we can do it. I admit I didn't know most of this before I moved here so I thought it might be enlightening to you guys as well.

We live in the age of the Internet.  I know it takes a little more effort but let's try to not let ourselves fall into the rabbit hole of blindly believing the media. Any media. That includes the stuff that riles you up because it falls in line with what you believe.  Get your news from several sources: BBC, Al Jazeera (no, it's not a terrorist organization and wouldn't you want to learn about the Arab world from people who actually live there?) National Geographic,  Sky News, CNN International.  If CNN automatically steers you to the American version check the top of the page.  It gives you the option of "International".  Click and see the different stories.  Watching the news now I can see how biased EVERY news organization is in the U.S.  The difference between CNN for America and CNN International is shocking.  In America, news has become another form of entertainment because they are in the process to make money.  It is not to inform you anymore.  It hasn't been for a long time. Think about how many stories you see that try to scare you or make you mad.  That isn't news, it is editorial.  News is fact not conjecture.  But, we have the Internet and if you use it wisely there are people out there that are trying to inform you.  We can do this!  Don't let yourself fall in the Facebook trap of pictures and stories that make it seem like America is destitute and spinning out of control and you are losing all of your freedoms and our President doesn't care and is trying to do harm and nobody cares and we have no hope.  Every one of us can make it better, every day.  We can do this! Get informed!

On a completely random fun note, I was recently told this story you might like.  You see,  Australians call what we call Jell-o, "jelly".  So, as a young girl, my friend would read the American Girl stories and always wonder what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tasted like.  So, one day she made one, with Jell-o.  She couldn't figure out why Americans were fascinated with the delicacy until many years later when she realized they were talking about a peanut butter and jam sandwich.  I thought it was hilarious as I pictured her trying to scarf it down.  Now she says she likes them but would still rather have Vegemite.  Crazy Australians!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's time to Ramble On...Lord of the Rings Wellington-style.

On our first Sunday in New Zealand I made my husband come with me on a Lord of the Ring tour.  If you are in the Wellington area I highly recommend Wellington Rover tours as it was a fun, fact-filled day of LOTR information and fun.  All the cool kids use LOTR for Lord of the Ring, by the way, so that's what I'll do from this point out.

We set out on our trusty steed, Aragorn, aka our tour van for our first stop at Mt. Victoria lookout.  It was super early so I was really hoping that Sean wasn't going to kill me.  Especially as I find out that he has never read the book. "Well, you've seen the movies though, right?"  "Yeah I guess.  They were good," he replies.  After I found a place to sit down and breathe I realize we've never really discussed this.  I'm thinking, 'oh boy are we in for a day'. Luckily, Jack our tour guide and Wellington itself made for an enjoyable day regardless of your Hobbit cross-dressing tendencies.

Miramar in the background

As we get to the incredible landscape lookout of Mt. Victoria one of the other guys taking the tour casually says, "oh yeah, I ran up here today."  Um, did I hear that right?  You ran up here? From your hotel 5 miles from here?  He says, "Yeah, I ended up running 24k today.  Kinda by accident, I got lost."  "Wow, are you training for something," I ask.  "Actually, I'm coming down from a 100k race I just did."  Holy crap.  I've never actually met one of these men in the flesh.  I've only marvelled at their craziness in all of the running magazines I now read faithfully.  So, including our tour guide who is a member of the Tolkien Society, Wellington branch, and me who is genetically predisposed to not be able to do anything halfway, we are officially on a tour of hardcores.  Strap yourself in, Sean.

Mt. Victoria is beautifully located to create 360-degree breathtaking landscapes of Wellington and the surrounding areas.

Wellington CBD from atop Mt. Victoria

Epic New Zealand

That strip of land is where all of the movie magic is made, Miramar

We head to where Peter Jackson shot the first scenes for the movie in the "Outer Shire" on October 11, 1999.  In reality it's located in part of the Wellington greenbelt park that overlooks the city.  It's truly amazing to see the vision a director must have to turn these locations into the places you see in the movie.  Plus, it was super fun seeing that most people were running or walking with their dogs.  Jack brought along an iPad to show us the actual clips that were filmed in the places we were standing.  I have no idea how Jackson kept everything straight in his head.  Between physical locations, CGI, actors being different sizes with different needs, props, I had my head spinning with minute details within minutes.

Jack is pointing out part of the scene

I'm hiding from the Nazgul minus the prop tree and black riders.  But I'm in the exact location where it was filmed.

"Get off the road! Quick!"

I'm pretending to be a scary Black Rider coming from the mist. 

For example, Liv Tyler, Arwen, is afraid of horses.  She tried to overcome it only to have the horse she was to ride nip her on the first day of shooting.  She decided that she couldn't ride so anytime you see her on a horse she is either on a barrel or it's her stunt double.  Did I just ruin the magic?  If so, you should probably stop reading now.  Ian McKellen, Gandalf, has a great respect for horses but also didn't really want to ride them because of an earlier tragedy in his life.  So, it's a stunt double when you see him on Shadowfax.  The only times he is on the horse is when it's at a full stop.

So, you have all of these little things about the actors and then you start messing with locations such as one scene moving back and forth between shooting locations.  You watch the scene and Jack starts pointing out where it was filmed, "Welly, Queenstown, Welly, Digital Stage, Queenstown, Welly", this is all in one 15-second scene mind you.  It immediately made me want to watch the films again because if you didn't think they were good before, wow, they are brilliantly insane!

Now where the other actors all had something they wanted to use "movie magic" on such as horses, swords, makeup, wigs, etc., Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn, didn't use any tricks.  Everyone who worked with him or met him said they have never met an actor like him.  Viggo grew his own hair out, wore real, seriously heavy chain maille, used a real sword not aluminum, and performed all of his own stunts.  When we took the Weta tour, in explaining how Weta had developed a new type of chain maille, he paused to say that we should all revere and give thanks to our true King, Viggo.  Everyone loves him as if he really was Aragorn the character.  In order to look authentically worn-down he would hike in full regalia to the filming locations.  They would put a GPS locator on him and sometimes take a helicopter to get footage of him hiking in remote places.  Plus, they would know where he was if he didn't show up on time. Hardcore.

Speaking of chain maille, Weta had two people work full-time for years to create the suits and it resulted in them not having any fingerprints.  Once again, no fingerprints. They wore them off.  Now they have thankfully grown back but that's crazy.  Apparently Weta is using this as initiation now.  They make everyone who begins working there make chain maille for two weeks.  Nerd hazing.
Check out this video of them making chain maille:

While at the Weta Cave we went on their Window Into Workshop tour.  An actual employee of Weta gives you a quick tour and explanation of how they work at Weta.  It was awesome!  They have tons of props and things for you to look at and feel.  No pictures were allowed as they included things from movies in progress.  They even had two people working on projects in front of us and we were allowed to ask them questions.  I hope they are able to continue this even when their next big project starts.  The next Avatar project is starting soon and rumor has it that a lot of the new Star Wars films will possibly be based there.  Pretty amazing considering that they are thinking of not doing it all at Skywalker Ranch in LA.  It's named 'Skywalker' for a reason...hmm, fascinating what money can do.

Trolls guard the entrance to the Weta Cave


Sword props in the Weta Cave

Bilbo's feet, the ultimate Five Finger shoe

It's not looking too good for me

We stopped at Scorching Bay for more beautiful views and a great lunch at the Scorch-o-Rama. I had the Salad of Saruman (Spinach and Feta) and Sean had a Bilbo's Little Treat (BLT). It was actually very tasty.  You never know on these tours. Apparently you can usually find celebrities eating here on any given day but it's not hard to see why.  Wellington is a small place. It kind of reminded me of Nashville in that you can see famous people at the hardware store and it's called Tuesday.  People don't seem to care much which adds to why celebrities like living there.

Scorching Bay
We headed out to see more locations and ended up having a cuppa at Rivendell, aka Kaitoke Regional Park.  It's hard to see where they filmed now since all of the sets were removed.  In fact, while filming, they set up a greenhouse and filled it with any plant and underbrush they removed to make the set.  Then after filming they put it all back and it's healthier than ever.  It's a beautiful park set in a thousand-year-old rainforest and they have just recently put up markers in relation to the film.

I'm not excited or anything

This is so you can figure out that it was actually filmed here

One of my nerdly promo shots in the exact spot where Orlando Bloom (Legolas) shot his epic promo poster shot

I have a feeling more of these will start popping up now

Then we drove past a working quarry that served as both Helms Deep and Minas Tirith.  You can't stop because you aren't allowed on the grounds.  Also, the town of Bree is now a primary school so that makes it awkward for photos (we thankfully skipped it on the tour) and Isengard is a disc golf course.  It was kismet as when we were talking about Gandalf a lady on a horse suddenly appears and walks down the same path that Gandalf used.  Jack was speechless and said he'd never seen that happen.

Best disc golf hole ever


...I'm a nerd

The path to Isengard

I guess I could superimpose Gandalf and Saruman walking here. That wouldn't be crazy at all.

By the end of the tour we had all come to an agreement that Christopher Lee, Saruman, is either a vampire or the basis for the Dos Equis most interesting man in the world.  Here are a few of the crazy facts that make up Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee:

  • Related to Ian Felming and Robert E. Lee
  • Volunteered to fight for Finland in the Winter War of 1939
  • Served in the Royal Air Force and was an intelligence officer during WWII. He was in the British Special Operations Executive or "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare". Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. 

    • "I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden – former, present, or future – to discuss any specific operations. Let's just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read in to that what they like." 

  • Just celebrated his 91st birthday by releasing a heavy metal album based on Charlemagne called Charlemagne: The Omens of Death.  This is a part of a trilogy and follows up his 2010 release, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.  He is also released a heavy metal Christmas album.
  • The only person working on LOTR to actually meet J.R.R. Tolkien.  Tolkien told him that he would make the perfect Gandalf.
  • He met Rasputin and witnessed the last public guillotine execution in France.
  • Has played epic villians Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Francisco Scaramanga, Saruman, and Count Dooku and both Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft.
  • He's appeared in more than 250 films and tv productions
  • Fluent in French, Italian, English, Spanish and German and can "get along" in Swedish, Russian and Greek
  • Was once a scratch golfer and is the only actor that was made a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
  • A Commander Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the world's oldest order
  • Considers his most important point in his career to have been a host of "Saturday Night Live" in 1978 with John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin.
  • The Carandini family is one of the oldest in Europe and had close connections to Charlemagne and was granted the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • He is 6'5'' and holds the Guinness World Record for "Tallest Leading Actor"
  • Is rumored to be in possession of the Holy Grail, okay, this one is funny but at this point, who knows?
  • When filming the scene in which Saruman is stabbed in the back Lee stopped and said, "No, that's not what happens. Have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he's stabbed in the back? I have." And then proceeded to act out what it was like. 
  • He has been reading Lord of the Rings every year for over 30 years
And there's much more but instead of inundating you with facts I will leave you with a video of him singing a heavy metal version of "Little Drummer Boy".  And a bonus video of Leonard Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" just for making it to the end of this post!   You're welcome.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

So, I'm packing my bags for the Misty Mountains...

The new mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, has declared a state of emergency in Hollywood.  Too many films are being produced in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  Seriously. You can read the article in The Guardian here. Apparently his campaign was largely funded by members of the entertainment industry so that he would take a firm stance to keep work in Hollywood.  After seeing how they make films in New Zealand it's no wonder why people are choosing to shoot and edit them there.

It's supposed to be illustrating it's a windy city with the "o" and "n" being blown away but most residents wanted it to read "Wellywood" 

First of all, New Zealand and the other countries mentioned usually give tax incentives.  Then there is Sir Peter Jackson.  He was born and raised near Wellington so when he won the rights to film the epic trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, Lord of the Rings, he knew exactly where he wanted to film it.  New Zealand has a large amount of diverse locations and climates all within a small geographical distance.

He and his friend, Jamie Selkirk, along with their friends Richard Taylor and his partner Tania Rodger (aside: people in NZ and Australia call their spouse a partner. Another reason I have no idea why gay marriage is not legal in Australia.) had already created the Weta Workshop to help create their movies.

The nondescript entrance to Weta Digital and Weta Workshop

Windows of Weta Workshop exhibit entrance

It seems like more people in New Zealand have the gift of foresight.  Maybe it's because they are stuck on an island and have to figure out how to do things differently.  Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor definitely have the gift of foresight.  Instead of doing things only to create whatever movie they were working on at the time they thought, "why don't we build a workshop so we can expand as our movies expand."  What an idea!  This idea carries over into every aspect of Peter Jackson's vision for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  This is why it looks different to other movies we see today.  Because it is.  It's because they don't just CGI a tree in a scene when they can have someone staple, by hand, 400,000 maple leaves to a tree to make it feel more like autumn.  That tree might not even make it in a scene but the actors know it's there and it helps things to be more 'real'. Then they still add things with CGI later.

Some people call it crazy.  Okay, most people call it crazy but you can't argue with the results.  Jackson knew he needed to find locations for filming but he decided to take the allotted monies and build a database for future reference.  So, he sent out location scouts to take pictures of almost everywhere in New Zealand and then built a computer program to help Directors find exactly what they needed.  This foresight is partially why it's so attractive to film in NZ now.  They didn't just film Lord of the Rings, they built an industry.  They built Weta Workshop, Weta Digital, Park Road Post Production, Wingnut Films, Wingnut Interactive Video Games. Created MASSIVE, a high-end computer animation and artificial intelligence software used for crowd-related visual effects and developed on the idea of motion capture into a completely new artform for actors; performance capture.

The newest building so it's the nicest looking.  They have money now. 

Academy Award-winning Director, James Cameron, just moved to Wellington and is preparing to film the next Avatar movies so the work just keeps expanding.

The Weta workshop and Park Road have now worked on the following films:
     Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Elysium, Man of Steel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Prometheus, The Avengers, The Adventures of Tin Tin, Emperor, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, Boogeyman, Without a Paddle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: First Class, Gulliver's Travels, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, The A-Team, Robin Hood, The Lovely Bones, Under The Mountain, Avatar, Daybreakers, District 9, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Jumper, Enchanted, 30 Days of Night, The Water Horse, Bridge To Terabithia, Fantastic Four, Black Sheep, X-Men: The Last Stand, Eragon, The Legend of Zorro, Hellboy, Van Helsing, I Robot, Peter Pan, Master and Commander, Perfect Strangers, The Last Samurai, Contact, Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners, Braindead.

Not to mention all of the TV shows and art sculptures.  In 2000, there were almost no movies made in New Zealand.  That list is all in the last ten years and is growing faster every year. Peter Jackson and his team pride themselves on not cutting corners.  Jackson is extremely meticulous even to the point of reshooting footage for the extended versions after Return of the King had already been awarded the Oscar for Best Picture.

But this is evident in everything they do.  I can't say how much I love this.  My favorite ol' ballcoach John Wooden said, "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over." This is why filming in Hollywood is in trouble. It's not just tax breaks and scenery, it is attitude.

This vision has seen Sir Peter Jackson get just about every award and distinction possible in New Zealand.  They even wanted to name the airport in Wellington after him.  In true NZ style, he declined and said, I'm paraphrasing here, please at least don't do it while I'm alive I'll never be able to go there again. And for that matter not while my kids are alive either because they wouldn't be able to fly anywhere.  So, they had to settle for renaming the terminal "The Middle of Middle Earth".  It has a huge sculpture of Gollum done by Weta.  Awesome!

Sean said it was kinda creepy eating underneath Gollum. I said it was a dream come true. But yes, creepy. 

In fact, New Zealand is just figuring out that they have a good thing on their hands here and marketing accordingly.  It took them this long because they are a pretty laid back people.  It's part of their charm.  "You mean there are people that will come here and spend money because some movies were made here? Sweet as bro! Kia ora!"  Check out this video made by Air New Zealand.

Well, here I've gone all New Zealand-like and written too much about Peter Jackson today and didn't get to my LOTR tour.  Guess you'll have to come back tomorrow to read about that adventure!

Here's a great piece done by Rock Center with Brian Williams with Ann Curry interviewing Peter Jackson.  If you are up for it I recommend you watch the videos.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I love it when you call me Te Papa

Last week we had the chance to visit New Zealand.  I absolutely loved everything about it.  From the manuka honey to free museums, from the friendly people to the crazy silver fern sphere that hangs in the middle of the civic square, Wellington won me over quickly.  So much so that I was looking at property prices.  (Don't worry mom, it's probably wishful thinking)

On Saturday morning we had some brekkie at a Mojo Cafe (there seems to be a cafe on every corner) and headed over to the Te Papa Tongarewa museum. Te Papa Tongarewa literally means 'the repository for precious things' in te reo Māori, which is the language of the Māori.  I didn't know what to expect since the museum is free.  I must say we gave a healthy donation as we left because it was worth paying to see it.

Entrance to the museum

The bottom floor focuses on native animals and plants.  New Zealand is rare in that it doesn't really have any apex predators on land outside of man.  This has led to almost flightless birds that are either extinct or going extinct because they didn't know to fly away when humans arrived.  Oh, that crazy Darwin, what did he know? That was written in sarcastic font by the way.  You see, New Zealand is the youngest area in the world to be settled.  It only happened about 800 years ago.  A paradise of riches that no one really cared about until the Māori left their other Polynesian home and sailed to Aotearoa (pronounced ow-tea-uh-row-uh).

The Māori are amazing at wood carving

Te Papa is the only museum in the world to house a Colossal Squid.  It's creepy and amazing how big these things can get.  It also has an area dedicated to earthquakes.  Wellington sits directly on top of where the Pacific plate and the Australian plate collide.  This creates daily earthquakes.  Yes, I said daily.  Apparently while we were there they had a 3.0 earthquake but I was told it doesn't count unless you feel it.  Before any event I attended they mention, "in case of earthquake...".  But most buildings and houses are earthquake ready and they are extremely prepared.

Partially because of its youth, New Zealand has managed to blend and incorporate the culture of the indigenous Māori people and in doing so have created harmony.  Unlike Australia and the United States, British settlers in New Zealand ended fighting and strife between them and the Māori with a treaty that is still in play to this day.  The Treaty of Waitangi is on display in the archives in Wellington.  It is in a darkened room and torn and tattered due to moths and fire but signifies in essence the beginning of New Zealand as a country.

The need for a treaty was probably aided in the fact that the Māori people were big, fierce warriors that were not going to go away to any reservation quietly.  If you've ever seen the Haka that the All Blacks rugby team from New Zealand do before every match you can somewhat understand what early European settlers faced.  They scare me and I love it.  Here is a video of what I'm talking about.

Today, schoolchildren have the option of learning the Māori language in school and there are even bilingual immersion programs.  When I was walking around the Carter Observatory a gaggle of little girls suddenly appeared speaking Māori and English interchangeably.  All colors, shapes and sizes speaking both languages.  It was rather inspiring.  I almost cried.  Seriously, I am that ridiculous and silly but it was so incredible seeing a little girl talk about how she is going to go to Tū-mata-uenga (Mars) in a rocket, for so many reasons.  It gives me hope for the new world.

There are three official languages of New Zealand: English, Māori and New Zealand sign language.  This means that all official documents are available in all three languages.  It is fascinating and seems to have been woven into every Kiwis DNA and identity. In contrast, the United States of America does not have any official language.  Our founding fathers did this on purpose.  The U.S. is a melting pot of many cultures and wanted to be welcoming to all languages.

In the Māori language, they use the same word for land and placenta.  It is called Whenua and shows just how close they consider the relationship between the earth and man.   Human beings are made from earth, Papatūānuku (earth mother) and after birth they actually placed the placenta and umbilical cord of this first human in a special receptacle and ritually buried it back in the earth.  Leading to the origin of an old Māori proverb: 'What is given by the land should return to the land', ‘He taonga nō te whenua, me hoki anō ki te whenua’.

This is what they place the placenta in to be buried

This being said, when they arrived they proceeded to destroy a large chunk of the forests to create space for their people to live.  When the Europeans arrived they destroyed even more so that image of rolling hills dotted with sheep is man-made.  They brought the Pākehā, sheep, along with them.

Illustration of the evolving land of Aotearoa

As you move to the upper levels of Te Papa they explore more of the Māori and other Polynesian cultures.  

A waka, the large boat they sailed on to Aotearoa

Creative hand-woven sails

They would store food in this

This place was sacred so they didn't allow pictures inside but it featured unbelievably articulate wood carvings and light.

If New Zealand was in the center of the globe. 

I found Wellington to be a breathtaking waterfront city that truly lives up to its motto; Absolutely Positively Wellington.  It's a shame Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington and the namesake of the city never visited the "coolest little capital in the world".  Stay tuned for more blogs on Welly and New Zealand.